Causes & Types of Tinnitus

Causes of tinnitus vary.

To learn more about tinnitus, please visit our new Signia hearing aids site

Brain Graphic

Brain scans indicate increased metabolic activity in the region of the left auditory cortex in tinnitus patients, suggesting that tinnitus is not exclusively related to the ear.

Conscious and unconscious perception of sound.

Normally about 30 percent of external sounds are consciously perceived, while the rest unconsciously fade out. When this filtering function works properly, it enables you to ignore some sounds. But when it is damaged, undesired sounds can be excessively amplified.

When hearing is intensely stimulated for a long time, it can result in a residual sensory perception even though the stimulating factor is long gone. So, it’s important to have your attention distracted away from the tinnitus in order to prevent a chronic manifestation.

Tinnitus sufferers most often cite stress as the cause of their condition. While it’s true noises are perceived more acutely when you are tense, there is no scientific basis for saying stress causes tinnitus. But the reverse is definitely true — hearing a constant noise in your ears can certainly cause stress and anxiety, and even lead to depression in some cases.

Each type of tinnitus has its own cause.

The following are the four types of tinnitus and their known contributing factors:

Another known cause of tinnitus is taking ototoxic (“ear poisoning”) medications. Once dosages are reduced or stopped entirely, the noises also usually disappear. But certain medicines can cause irreparable damage, resulting in hearing loss and/or permanent tinnitus.

Research shows more than 50 percent of tinnitus sufferers have hearing loss.

There may be a correlation between tinnitus and hearing loss. Because tinnitus is perceived differently by each sufferer, an exact diagnosis is essential. A doctor may conduct ENT, dental, orthodontic, and orthopedic examinations in order to establish whether a case can be medically treated or not. The pitch and volume of tinnitus can be determined by special diagnostic test, and a hearing test can reveal whether hearing loss is also involved. Treatment with hearing aids is often the first step to relief from tinnitus. Hearing aids compensate for hearing loss, which enables concentration on external sounds instead of internal noises.

Tinnitus therapy is available in many hearing aids.

Certain hearing aids — Ace™Pure®, Carat™, Aquaris™Siemens Life™Insio™, Nitro®, and Orion™ — have a tinnitus therapy feature that can function as an independent sound generator or in a mixed mode with both the hearing aid microphones and the sound generator. Your hearing care professional can help you determine the type of therapy that is right for your tinnitus.